What are Elon Musk’s businesses?
He is famous for dating some of the biggest Hollywood celebrities, including Amber Heard and Grimes, and for trying to send humans to Mars.
Elon Musk started 8 different businesses during his career, including PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, Solar City, and The Boring Company. He also recently bought the social media platform Twitter for $44 billion dollars, making it the newest company in his portfolio of businesses.
Today Elon has a net worth of $164 billion dollars, making him the 2nd richest man in the world!
In this guide you will learn EXACTLY how Elon Musk built his businesses, including how he sold Paypal for $180 million dollars to fund his other business projects.
We also answer your most important questions, including:
- Why did Elon Musk buy Twitter?
- When will Elon Musk send humans to Mars?
- What are Elon Musk’s future plans for The Boring Company?
…And much more!
We even cover Elon Musk’s best advice for starting your own billion dollar company…
List Of Elon Musk Businesses
Elon Musk is one of the richest men in the world, with a net worth of over $100 billion dollars. So how did he get so rich?
In other words, what businesses did he start to build his wealth?
Elon Musk runs 5 different companies including SpaceX, Tesla, Neuralink, The Boring Company, and Twitter.
Elon used to own other companies including Zip2 and Paypal, but he sold them to investors for hundreds of millions of dollars to fund his other business ventures.
Here is a list of every business that Elon Musk has owned during his career as an entrepreneur:
Elon Musk Businesses
- Business #1: Zip2
- Business #2: PayPal
- Business #3: SpaceX
- Business #4: Tesla
- Business #5: SolarCity
- Business #6: OpenAI
- Business #7: Neuralink
- Business #8: The Boring Company
- Business #9: Twitter
Let’s take a closer look at each of these businesses.
Elon Musk's First Business: Zip2
Elon Musk started his first business called Zip2 right after he dropped out of graduate school at Stanford University.
His goal was to create an online tool that could be used for directions, similar to “google maps.”
Elon called this business “Zip2.”
“When my brother and I were starting our first company, instead of getting an apartment, we just rented a small office and we slept on the couch.”
Elon Musk sold Zip2 for $18 million dollars in 1999.
He says this was his first real success as an entrepreneur, and it gave him the funds, the confidence, and the experience necessary to tackle other major projects, including PayPal.
Elon Musk's Second Business: PayPal
Elon Musk started PayPal in 1999. Just like with Zip2, his goal was to solve a major pain point for consumers on the internet.
This time his goal was to create a fully integrated online bank where you could perform all of your financial transactions in one place.
The business was a huge success, and he ended up selling PayPal in 2002 for $180 million dollars.
“My proceeds from the PayPal acquisition were $180 million.
I put $100 million in SpaceX, $70m in Tesla, and $10m in Solar City. I had to borrow money for rent.”
PayPal was a massive success for Elon Musk.
Many entrepreneurs would retire if they were in Elon’s shoes. However, he decided to risk everything and start 3 new companies: SpaceX, Tesla, and Solar City…
Elon Musk's Third Business: SpaceX
Elon Musk started SpaceX in 2002, almost immediately after selling PayPal for $180 million dollars.
The story goes he checked NASA’s website to see when they were planning on sending humans to Mars. Elon was shocked when he found out they had no plans to send humans to the red planet!
Elon Musk decided to take things into his own hands by starting a rocket / space exploration company called SpaceX.
“It's about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past.
And I can't think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”
Of course, SpaceX is also an extremely profitable company.
Right now Elon Musk makes money with SpaceX by fulfilling NASA contracts and with his internet service called Starlink, which uses satellites orbiting Earth in space.
Elon Musk's Fourth Business: Tesla
Tesla is Elon Musk’s most famous and profitable company.
Tesla was started by a small team of entrepreneurs. Elon joined the Tesla team in 2004, and by 2008 he was named the company CEO.
Tesla’s mission is to speed up the development and distribution of electric cars around the world.
Elon believes this solves one of humanity’s biggest issues: finding a renewable energy source that can replace oil.
“It’s financially insane to buy anything other than a Tesla. It would be like owning a horse in three years.
I mean, fine if you want to own a horse. But you should go into it with that expectation.”
Today Elon Musk owns approximately 14% of Tesla, making it his most important and profitable company.
Elon believes all cars in the future will be electric cars, so his company is well positioned for the future.
Elon Musk's Fifth Business: SolarCity
Elon Musk started SolarCity in 2006 with one simple goal: to speed up the development of cost-efficient solar panels to make solar energy a viable alternative to traditional fossil fuels.
In many ways, the mission of SolarCity is very similar to the mission of Tesla.
“The goal is to make solar roofs that look better than a normal roof, generate electricity, last longer, have better insulation, and actually have an installed cost that is less than a normal roof plus the cost of electricity.
Why would you buy anything else?”
SolarCity was a reasonably successful company, but Elon Musk eventually decided it would be better to pool the resources of Tesla and SolarCity under one giant company.
Tesla acquired SolarCity in 2016 for $2.6 billion, which means the company is still under Elon Musk’s control today.
Elon Musk's Sixth Business: OpenAI
Elon Musk views artificial intelligence as one of the most exciting and dangerous innovations of all time.
He says artificial intelligence is exciting because it has the potential to solve many of humanity’s biggest problems. However, it also poses extreme dangers to humanity if it is developed and utilized in an irresponsible manner.
Just watch the Terminator movies to see what I mean!
With that in mind, Elno Musk started OpenAI in 2015 to accelerate the development of AI in a safe, responsible manner.
“So the goal of OpenAI is really just to take the set of actions that are most likely to improve the positive futures.”
OpenAI is actively working on an open-source artificial intelligence program that anyone can use.
By making artificial intelligence open source and available to everyone, he hopes to reduce the odds of it being used in a harmful manner.
Elon Musk's Seventh Business: Neuralink
Neuralink is one of Elon Musk’s newest and most bizarre companies.
The mission of Neuralink is to develop microchips that can be implanted into the brains of humans!
At first these microchips will be developed to help people with disabilities. For example, Elon believes microchips can be developed to help paralyzed patients regain use of their arms and legs.
Elon also believes they can be used to restore vision in blind individuals.
“Even if someone has never had vision, ever, like they were born blind, we believe we can still restore vision.”
Elon Musk says these microchips have many possible uses, and in the future he wants to implant them in the brains of healthy individuals.
He believes these microchips will allow humans to “upgrade” their brains, with significant improvements in their memory and processing power.
Elon Musk's Eighth Business: The Boring Company
Elon Musk started The Boring Company in 2016. No, this is not a joke – he actually started a company called The Boring Company!
The word “boring” actually means “to make tunnels.” Elon Musk started The Boring Company to build tunnels underneath major cities, which he believes will reduce city congestion and reduce traffic.
“So clearly, something needs to be done to revolutionize tunneling technology.
We need to be able to build tunnels way faster and for a lot less money.”
Elon Musk is working on building tunnels underneath Los Angeles as you read this.
Once he perfects the art and science of building tunnels, he will expand to other major cities across the United States, including New York, Chicago, and Miami.
Elon Musk's Ninth Business: Twitter
Twitter might be the only company that Elon Musk currently owns that he didn’t start himself!
Twitter is a social media platform that allows users to communicate with each other using short-form messages.
Elon says was censoring information and stifling free speech, which he viewed as a “threat to democracy.”
Elon Musk has read enough history books to know that the people in favor of censorship are never the good guys, and censorship is always followed by tyranny and authoritarianism.
To combat this problem, he purchased Twitter for $44 billion dollars and eliminated most of the pro-censorship policies on Twitter.
Elon Musk now intends to drop down from his role as CEO of Twitter, while still managing other aspects of the company.
The only problem is he can’t find a suitable replacement!
“No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive.
There is no successor. The question is not finding a CEO, the question is finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive.”
So far most Twitter users have mixed opinions about Elon Musk buying the social media platform.
Those in favor of free speech policies are cheering his decision to buy Twitter, while those concerned about microaggressions are not.
What Is Elon Musk’s Net Worth?
Elon Musk has started 8 different companies and is one of the richest men in the world today. So what is his net worth?
Elon Musk has a net worth of $164 billion dollars as of 2023.
His net worth peaked at an unbelievable $340 billion dollars in November 2021, making him the richest man in the world. However, his net worth has dropped in recent months due to a decrease in Tesla’s share price.
Elon Musk Net Worth Timeline
- January 2013: $2.7 Billion
- January 2014: $8.0 Billion
- January 2015: $10.5 Billion
- January 2016: $11.8 Billion
- January 2017: $10.7 Billion
- January 2018: $20.4 Billion
- January 2019: $22.3 Billion
- January 2020: $28.5 Billion
- January 2021: $170 Billion
- January 2022: $270 Billion
- January 2023: $156 Billion
Elon Musk’s net worth has absolutely exploded over the past 10 years.
In 2013 Elon Musk had a net worth of just $2.7 billion dollars. This is obviously extremely impressive, but it is nothing compared to his current net worth of $164 billion!
Despite his enormous financial success Elon insists that he is not motivated by money. Instead, he just wants to do useful things for humanity.
“For me it was never about money, but solving problems for the future of humanity.”
So how did Elon go from a graduate school dropout with over $100,000 dollars in student debt, to the 2nd richest man in the world?
The short answer is Elon Musk built and sold different internet companies like Zip2 and PayPal, and then aggressively reinvested these funds into his other business ventures like SpaceX, Tesla, and Twitter.
How Did Elon Musk Get Rich?
- Sold Zip2 in 1999 for $22 million
- Sold PayPal in 2001 for $180 million
- Founded SpaceX in 2002, now worth $62 billion
- Founded Tesla in 2004, now worth $64 billion
- Purchased Twitter in 2022, now worth $42 billion
Elon Musk says he took his $180 million dollar payout from PayPal, and reinvested 100% of it into SpaceX and Tesla.
He originally planned on investing $90 million dollars and saving the other half in case the companies failed.
However, he ran into some unexpected challenges and he was forced to invest 100% of his funds into these companies to save them.
“I always invest my own money in the companies that I create. I don't believe in the whole thing of just using other people's money.
I don't think that's right. I'm not going to ask other people to invest in something if I'm not prepared to do so myself.”
Elon Musk says Tesla and SpaceX stocks make up the vast majority of his net worth.
He describes himself as being “cash poor,” because he has relatively little cash available, despite being worth more than $100 billion dollars!
What Is Elon Musk’s Salary?
This might shock you, but Elon Musk does NOT have a fixed salary. He was offered a salary as CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, but he refused to accept it!
Instead, Elon Musk makes all of his money via stock price appreciation.
As his companies increase in value, so do their stocks. This means Elon Musk’s net worth is almost 100% tied to the success of his major businesses like SpaceX and Tesla!
“Note, I do not take a cash salary or bonus from anywhere.
I only have stock, thus the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock.”
Elon Musk says it’s a risky move to forgo accepting a salary. After all, most CEO’s in the United States make more than $10 million dollars per year!
However, Elon Musk believes this is the absolute fastest way to make money. Elon Musk has increased his net worth by more than $140 billion dollars over the past 10 years, so it looks like his strategy is working!
Here is how much money Elon Musk makes in a second, minute, hour, and so on:
How Much Does Elon Musk Make?
- Per Second: $486.50
- Per Minute: $29,200
- Per Hour: $1.75 Million
- Per Day: $42 Million
- Per Week: $294.2 Million
- Per Month: $1.3 Billion
- Per Year: $15.3 Billion
Elon Musk makes $486.50 per second, $29,200 per minute, $1.75 million per hour, $42 million per day, $294.2 million per week, $1.3 billion per month, and $15.3 billion per year!
Of course, these numbers are based on how fast his net worth has increased over the past 10 years, rather than his actual salary.
Is Elon Musk The Richest Man In The World?
Elon Musk is currently the 2nd richest man in the world.
He was the richest man in the world for several months during 2021 and 2022, thanks to Tesla stocks reaching an all-time high of more than $400 dollars per share.
Elon Musk’s net worth peaked at an incredible $340 billion dollars in November 2021!
However, Elon Musk’s companies took a big hit in 2022, and his net worth crashed back down to an estimated $164 billion.
The 10 Richest People In The World (Updated 2023)
- Bernard Arnault – $180 billion
- Elon Musk – $164 billion
- Gautam Adani – $134 billion
- Bill Gates – $108 billion
- Jeff Bezos – $108 billion
- Warren Buffett – $105 billion
- Larry Ellison – $103 billion
- Mukesh Ambani – $102 billion
- Steve Ballmer – $91 billion
- Larry Page – $81 billion
Bernard Arnault is currently the richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of $180 billion dollars.
Was Elon Musk Born Rich?
Many people wonder if Elon Musk was born rich. Did he inherit a lot of money from his parents, or is he a true self-made billionaire?
Here’s the truth: no, Elon Musk was NOT born rich. His parents were very poor, and could barely afford to put a roof over their heads when he was growing up.
Elon Musk also says that he had very poor parents – particularly his father.
“I had a terrible upbringing. I had a lot of adversity growing up. One thing I worry about with my kids is they don't face enough adversity.”
Elon Musk sasy he was able to become rich and successful despite his parents and his childhood, not because of it.
This makes sense when you think about it… it’s actually pretty rare for someone to be born into wealth.
About 90% of millionaires in the United States built their wealth on their own, rather than inheriting it from someone else. Almost all rich people become rich on their own, rather than through their parents.
To recap, here is a brief history of Elon Musk’s life story:
Elon Musk Life Story
- Born in South Africa on June 28th, 1971
- Read all the books in his library by age 9
- Built his first computer game by age 12
- Attended Queen’s University in Canada at age 17
- Transferred to Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
- Attended graduate school at Stanford for 2 days
- Dropped out of graduate school to start Zip2 and Paypal
Elon Musk had over $100,000 dollars of debt when he dropped out of graduate school at Stanford. He says he regrets going to college, as you don’t actually learn anything useful there.
He views college more as a glorified daycare or summer camp, rather than a place where you actually learn valuable skills that you can use in the real world.
“I don't consider going to college evidence of exceptional ability. In fact, ideally you dropped out.”
Elon Musk argues that most successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs dropped out of college, so it clearly can’t be that important!
At any rate, Elon Musk is clearly a self-made man, as he became a millionaire and then a billionaire all on his own, without any assistance from his parents.
Why Did Elon Musk Buy Twitter?
Elon Musk finally bought Twitter in August 2022 for $44 billion dollars!
Many people have mixed feelings about Elon taking over the social media platform. Some people believe it is a good thing, as he vows to reduce the amount of censorship on the platform.
Other people say it is terrible for the United States and the world, as the platform will no longer remove “misinformation” and “disinformation” that could be harmful to society.
So why did Elon Musk buy Twitter in the first place?
Elon Musk bought Twitter because he feels it is essential for the well-being of society that we have a digital town square where people can freely exchange and debate ideas.
“In principle, I don't believe anyone should own or run Twitter. It wants to be a public good at a protocol level, not a company.”
Elon Musk says the previous owners of Twitter were doing a very poor job of handling the social media platform like a business.
They had too many employees costing Twitter too much money, and they weren’t increasing revenue fast enough to cover their costs.
Elon fired the vast majority of the Twitter staff on day 1, and he is pushing his current employees extremely hard to make up for the reduced staff.
“Going forward, to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be extremely hardcore.”
Many people in the United States believe that Elon Musk has no idea what he is doing with Twitter.
However, Elon Musk has launched almost 10 extremely profitable companies, so I’m sure he will find a way to make Twitter better than ever!
Why Does Elon Musk Want To Colonize Mars?
Elon Musk believes colonizing Mars is the first critical step in making humans a multiplanetary species.
He says if we never colonize another planet (like Mars), then we will eventually be wiped out by some type of extinction event.
Maybe Earth will be hit by a major asteroid, or perhaps humans will wipe themselves out with man-made climate change. Whatever the cause, Musk believes on a long-enough timeline, the human race is doomed on Earth!
For this reason, he believes it is essential that we start colonizing other planets as quickly as possible!
“If there’s something terrible that happens on Earth, either made by humans or natural, we want to have, like, life insurance for life as a whole.
Then, there’s the kind of excitement and adventure.”
Elon Musk says there are two big problems with colonizing Mars.
The first problem is finding a way to actually transport people to Mars, and the second problem is finding a way to make Mars an Earth-like planet.
After all, Mars is far too cold for humans to live on right now!
Elon believes we can solve the first problem by building reusable rockets, and the second problem by dropping nuclear bombs on the polar ice caps of Mars and releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air!
Of course, there is also the issue of finding people who want to go to Mars in the first place… for that, Elon has the following elevator pitch:
“If an arduous and dangerous journey where you may not come back alive, but it's a glorious adventure, sounds appealing, Mars is the place.”
In other words, if you go to Mars you will probably die, and your odds of ever coming back to Earth are extremely low… but you will have the adventure of a lifetime!
Elon Musk says there is about a 70% chance that he will go to Mars before dying of old age.
Elon Musk Frequently Asked Questions
- FAQ #1: Where did Elon Musk grow up?
- FAQ #2: How smart is Elon Musk?
- FAQ #3: Why is Elon Musk famous?
- FAQ #4: What are Elon Musk’s political views?
- FAQ #5: Who is Elon Musk dating?
- FAQ #6: How many kids does Elon Musk have?
- FAQ #7: Does Elon Musk still own Paypal?
Let’s take a closer look at each of these questions.
Where Did Elon Musk Grow Up?
Elon Musk grew up in Pretoria, South Africa. He lived there until he was 17 years old, at which point he moved to Ontario, Canada for college.
How Smart Is Elon Musk?
Elon Musk has an IQ of 155, making him a literal genius and one of the smartest people in the world. For reference, Albert Einstein has an IQ of around 160.
Why Is Elon Musk Famous?
Elon Musk is famous for starting multiple successful companies like Tesla and SpaceX. He is recently in the news for buying Twitter, one of the most popular social media platforms in the world.
What Are Elon Musk's Political Views?
Elon Musk describes himself as a lifelong Liberal or “left-winger,” and normally prefers to vote for the Democratic party in the United States.
Who Is Elon Musk Dating?
Elon Musk is currently dating the artist Grimes. The two have one child together, which they have chosen to name X Æ A-12.
How Many Kids Does Elon Musk Have?
Elon Musk currently has 10 children with at least 3 different baby mommas. His latest child is with his current partner Grimes.
Does Elon Musk Still Own PayPal?
Elon Musk does not own PayPal. He sold his entire stake in PayPal in 2002 for a whopping $180 million dollars.
Verdict | List Of Elon Musk's Companies
So what’s the verdict… what businesses does Elon Musk own?
Elon Musk currently owns about 6 successful businesses including Tesla, SpaceX, OpenAI, NeuraLink, The Boring Company, and Twitter.
Elon also built and sold other successful businesses including Zip2, PayPal, and Solar City.
Most entrepreneurs have a hard time building 1 successful business, let alone 9! However, Elon Musk is an enormously gifted individual with the ability to do things other entrepreneurs can’t even imagine pulling off!
Elon Musk says Tesla is his most profitable company, and has contributed the most to his $164 billion dollar net worth.
However, he believes in all of his companies, and splits his time during the week between all of them to make sure they all succeed.